Structural Unemployment


DEFINITION of 'Structural Unemployment'

A longer-lasting form of unemployment caused by fundamental shifts in an economy. Structural unemployment occurs for a number of reasons – workers may lack the requisite job skills, or they may live far from regions where jobs are available but are unable to move there. Or they may simply be unwilling to work because existing wage levels are too low. So while jobs are available, there is a serious mismatch between what companies need and what workers can offer. Structural unemployment is exacerbated by extraneous factors such as technology, competition and government policy.


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BREAKING DOWN 'Structural Unemployment'

Structural unemployment can often last for decades and may need radical change to redress the situation.

For example, hundreds of thousands of well-paying manufacturing jobs have been lost in the U.S. over the past three decades as production jobs have migrated to lower-cost jurisdictions in China and elsewhere.

The 2007-09 global recession also aggravated structural unemployment in the U.S. As the jobless rate peaked at over 10% and the average unemployment period for millions of workers rose significantly compared with previous recoveries, their skills deteriorated during this period of prolonged unemployment. The depressed housing market also affected the job prospects of the unemployed, since relocating to a new job in another city would mean selling their homes at a substantial loss, which not many were willing to do.

Growing technology in all spheres of life may increase future structural unemployment, since workers without adequate skills will get marginalized, while even those with skills may face redundancy given the high rate of technological obsolescence.

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  1. What is the best way for my startup to have sustainable growth?

    Structural unemployment can last forever in theory, if efforts are not made to transform the workforce to meet the needs ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between structural unemployment and cyclical unemployment?

    Structural unemployment and cyclical unemployment occur throughout an economy. Structural unemployment is caused by shifts ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does automated work affect structural unemployment rates?

    One of the main causes of structural unemployment is the automation of work. If jobs become increasingly automated, more ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are some causes of structural unemployment?

    Structural unemployment is a form of unemployment caused by shifts in the economy. It occurs when there is an oversupply ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between frictional unemployment and structural unemployment?

    Structural unemployment and frictional unemployment are two different types of unemployment that occur in an economy. Frictional ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What's the difference between cyclical unemployment and seasonal unemployment?

    Cyclical unemployment arises due to changes in the business cycle; it occurs when the gross domestic product (GDP) falls ... Read Full Answer >>
  7. Is there a natural rate of cyclical unemployment?

    There is no natural rate of cyclical unemployment. The natural unemployment rate is a specific feature of the economy — it ... Read Full Answer >>

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